Harold Ivor James, BSc (Wales)
Harold Ivor James was the School’s second1 teacher of Botany. He was born in the Abergavenny area in 1908, the fifth son of Herbert James and his wife Diana, née Bishop. Harold’s father eventually progressed to become a guard with the GWR, and his two grandfathers were also railway workers. The family moved west shortly after Harold was born, with his elementary education taking place in Swansea 1915–18, and Llandovery 1918–19. He then spent the years 1919–26 at Llandovery County School, taking his Highers in Botany, Chemistry and French. Entering, what was then, the University College of South Wales and Monmouthshire in 1926, (now Cardiff University), he took a 1st Class Honours degree in Botany in 1929. He stayed an additional year to gain his Teaching Diploma, having done teaching practice at Pontypridd Intermediate School.
He commenced his duties at Aberdare Boys County School in September 1930, teaching chemistry, botany and zoology. Initially he lodged at Bronant, Abernant Road, but very soon took up residence in Park Grove, not far from the School. He acquired the nickname ‘Jimmy’ used unofficially by the boys at school. With Jimmy’s appointment, and after a break of almost twenty years, Higher Certificate botany and zoology returned to the curriculum and the first qualifications in these subjects appeared in the 1932 examination results.
Jimmy can be seen in some of the photographs on this website, including a photo2 taken circa 1933 when he was in charge of the Ramblers Club. In Aberdare he took an interest in scouting, Toc-H and the Aberdare Gardeners’ Society.
In 1934, he married Doris Kathleen Davis in Walsall, Staffordshire.
Like some others on the staff, WW2 temporarily interrupted his life as a teacher at the Trecynon School, for at the end of January 1942, he joined H.M. Forces3. After serving in India and Burma, he was back at school in November 1945, but after a further four years, he resigned and departed at the end of the Christmas term 1949. He took up a new post in 1950 at Dixie Grammar School, Market Bosworth in Leicestershire – now, (since 1987), an independent school.
When Jimmy James left ABGS, the Aberdare Leader published a brief report that can be seen here.
Jimmy lived a long life, and passed away aged 87 in 1996 in Warwickshire. His wife died a few months later.
David Daniel Davies4, (aka Dai-cube, a pupil at ABCS 1926–34, and a pupil of Jimmy James), took over biological subjects at the school in January 1950.